I couldn’t cry about it. Because I could hardly allow my brain to think about it.
Children are dead who should be alive. Their friends and family bear jagged heart-shaped wounds.
Whether additional gun laws would have made a difference or not, they are needed. Guns are too accessible, and make killing too easy. No skills and little preparation required. Quite unlike building a bomb or even wielding a knife, a fact that continues to fail to appear in pro-gun rhetoric.
Children are dead.
Whether mental health reform would have made a difference or not, it is needed. Broken minds are being ignored, or worse, ground into tinier pieces under the heel of a society fanatically normal-centric.
Children who should be alive have died. Brand-new people with bright eyes, with smiles shy or exuberant, who should be dancing and throwing tantrums, amazing us with their opinions and innovations, running at unsustainable speeds.
This is different. My heart rebels against making distinctions amongst mass-murderers, but the brain always looks for pattern, for reason. A high-school outcast seeking revenge on the society that excludes them, a man imitating a movie villain, these are horrendous, deplorable things, but on some distant level, we understand something, some barest, ugly inkling of the why. Not in any way do we condone their horrific deeds, or comprehend the chasm-leap from the feeling to the action. Not in any way are those deaths less debilitating for all who loved them. But that sliver of an answer to the why must make a tiny difference in the long, glacial healing process, if only to shove one from stark, frozen denial into the crucible of anger.
There is no why here. A man killed his mother. That would be hard enough to say. But this?
Small children have been killed. No matter what evidence is eventually uncovered, it will never explain.
Children. I have children. I teach children. Every week I will bear witness to sudden, blinding cognitive leaps. Over a year or more I trace their inevitable winding journey toward maturity. Maybe even see a spirit unfold a little in the process if I’m very lucky.
If I were a parent of a child who came home again, how could I process the turmoil of lung-puncturing relief scrambled forever with guilt? And then there’s the fear. I can taste the bitterness of that fear from here, safe in my home with my sleeping children close by. How could trust ever grow again in ground so poisoned.
I know this: if I were a teacher at Sandy Hook, this would break me. Dragons couldn’t stop me from finishing the year for the children who survived. But then? What. How. I might sit down that last day of classes in spring and never manage to move again.
Because there is no real recovering when children are dead.
My mind shies from tracing the path of a parent whose child is gone. Breathing could be nearly unbearable. Sleep would feel like a betrayal unless filled with torturous dreams. The soul must writhe with aches as the body would for a missing limb. Or maybe every moment is simply numb.
Not only were children killed — other children bore witness. Children whose parents may not have allowed them to watch certain PG movies. Yes, children are resilient. Children are also fragile.
My eyes have burned for days, my forehead aching with tears that can’t come.
I found out while at home with both of my little ones. Thor was at work. Perhaps I might have cried then, had I been alone, or with Thor, or had my kids been old enough to be told.
Here’s what finally broke the dam today: pictures. Some posed, most candid. Pictures meant for photo albums and wallets. Not memorials.
Funerals instead of holidays.
My children are asleep. I am home alone. I am crying silently, so as not to wake them.
My eyes burn. My forehead aches. My tears flow. My grief feels pointless, gratuitous, almost shameful given how much has been lost, and how little I can help. Impotent rage sears through me.
And then my children wake up. Because I am lucky, and they are lucky. I dry my tears and go to them.
Because we am lucky, we continue our day now.